Extensive testing to accelerate innovation
How we approach testing to help develop innovative solutions for customers
When it comes to developing and testing automotive solutions to ensure they meet rigorous standards, Tecman have extensive experience gained from working with some of the largest OEMs.
Testing is an integral part of innovating in materials. Challenging assumptions about how a material might perform in a given circumstance is a useful exercise and one that our customers find helpful, whether those assumptions are related to temperature, vibration, moisture or something else.
Pushing innovation through material testing
When we first start working with an OEM, we undertake preliminary testing of existing materials – this helps us to understand the end environment and make a rapid assessment of how we can develop new solutions to meet a customer’s exact specification or overcome a specific challenge they are facing.
One of our projects saw a major OEM specify that a protection film needed to be capable of withstanding temperatures of 85 degrees celsius for two hours at a time, which helped us quickly rule out some materials. Preliminary testing often throws up new ideas and more innovative ways of tackling the challenge at hand and aids experimentation – a vital part of the product development process and necessary for efficient problem solving.
The value of multi-industry experience
Our engineers have a granular knowledge of lots of potential solutions and understand how materials might interact together as a result of cross-sector experience. This is a significant source of added value for our customers that helps reframe challenges and unlock new perspectives.
Our approach to testing is bespoke to each project and depends on the customer spec, time frame and other factors. This is the case from the very first preliminary testing we conduct right through to advanced testing.
For example, one of our automotive projects involved bonding an external trim to a vehicle, which required extreme stress testing to replicate real world conditions. Our sub-zero shock testing on the trim component helped us to understand how vibration, impact and temperature affected bonding performance and differed from our approach to a construction project, where field testing insights demonstrated that the peel strength of a bond could be sacrificed to prioritise a high shear strength.
The complexity of our development and testing processes depends on the type of project. For a straightforward protection film project, we test materials to ensure they conform to supplier specifications and that they work well with the substrate they are trying to protect. Real world application testing then ensures those materials can be applied quickly and effectively at the point of assembly, which may be a using a manual process using jig fixtures, or using automated equipment developed by the customer themselves.
Collaborative testing to support complex innovation
For more complex projects, such as innovation in thermal management, a greater range of considerations are at play. This means running FEA models (finite element analysis) in the early stages of a project, which help OEMs to narrow material options down and avoid extensive testing further down the product development lifecycle. FEA modelling, conducted via Tecman’s supply partners, is a computerised method for predicting how a product will react in the real-world to forces, vibration, heat, fluid flow and other factors and helps predict whether a product will break, wear out or work as intended throughout its lifespan.
Partnerships between converters and material manufacturers are key to developing innovative products that can withstand extensive testing. Converters gain detailed knowledge of material performance characteristics through these relationships and obtain access to additional testing methodologies and facilities – in a battery context this might be measuring the flame-retardant strength, for example.
Innovative product development requires the use of testing techniques that mimic the intended context as closely as possible – only by innovating in testing can OEMs develop reliable, innovative products suitable for high volume manufacturing.
Tecman has over 25 years experience as a converter and end-to-end high volume manufacturing partner for automotive and wider manufacturing industries. With vast industry and engineering knowledge, expertise in advanced materials and technologies we develop solutions that have the potential to solve many of the thermal related challenges that battery design engineers face today. Helping unlock superior performance and innovation.